Tuesday, March 22, 2016

When Lasagna Rocks Your World

If you're anything like me, you have a strong tendency to focus on your weaknesses, those inadequacies that glare at you in the mirror or get highlighted by some amazing, capable, got-it-all-together friend who you force yourself to love despite the painful comparisons you make.

No? This isn't you? 
Well, you can stop reading then. 
You don't need me. 

For the rest of you, maybe there is something here 
that God would have you hear. 

Today, the most simple act of kindness rocked my world. But not because of the kindness itself, but because of the brokenness that it put in 
a spot light for me. 

Today, a friend wanted to bless 
us with dinner. 
In a house full of male, teen eaters, with manly appetites, this is ALWAYS a blessing. 


But today was different. 
Today, the amazing meal in question was a lasagna with salad. 
A FROZEN Lasagna- 
With NO instructions. 

So, in my culinary ignorance, I innocently text the person responsible for getting the meal to me and asked how I should cook it. 
She advised 1 hour at 375 degrees, check and uncover till cheese is browned on top. 

Seemed reasonable to me, so I thanked her and added my normal excuse, 
"Tom was the chef in the family"

That was when it happened. 
I crumbled. 
Sitting in the church parking lot waiting for 3 of the boys to finish band class, I absolutely lost it. 
Every single flaw, inadequacy, and bit of brokenness flooded over me in that moment.
I couldn't stop crying.  

I couldn't even cook a stinkin' frozen lasagna without help! 

But, here's the thing. 
It wasn't about the lasagna. 
It was about the painful reminder that I no longer had Tom here to fill in my gaps. 

I never had to cook. I never had to know what temperature to cook a lasagna, or anything else for that matter. 
On those rare occasions that I needed to cook, I could READ THE DIRECTIONS. 

But today, there were no directions. 
There was no Tom. 
There was just me. 

And in that moment, I not only saw my ignorance with cooking, but every other single flaw I possess. 

I saw everything that now was right in front of me, all those things that Tom made better. 

I saw my impatience and my temper. 
I saw my grief and my fatigue. 
I saw my frustration and I realized that there is a reason I have these gaps. 
There is a reason that God lovingly reminded me of them today. 

You see, I don't think that these things, these reminders, are always from the enemy. 
I believe there are times when our loving Father needs us to recognize our weakness so that we have no choice left 
but to cling to him. 

All my type A peeps will testify that 
one of the worst feelings in the world is to feel weak. 
I hate being broken. 
I hate feeling that I'm not enough and will never be enough for my kids. 
I hate feeling that without their father, we are all missing some vital part of our lives that can never be replaced. 

But I know that I am not alone. 
I know that the God who called him home has not left us and that if he needed me to be enough, he would have made it so.
If I needed to be a fabulous cook, 
I would be.  

So for all of you who aren't enough either, 
join me in praising God for your weaknesses. 
Praise Him for being enough, for being sufficient. 

There are many days that I simply cannot fathom why God chose me, of all people, to be a single mom to these children, but I will trust Him. 

I will trust that no matter how broken I may be, that He didn't get this wrong and that He will give me what I need and what they need to fulfill His purposes for their lives. 

So go on and sew that button back on with the wrong colored thread, tell your sons you want to "make a goal" while 
you are shooting hoops, 
admit that you have NO IDEA what the answer to that calculus question is, because it's ok to get it wrong. 
It's ok if you aren't enough. 

What you ARE, is exactly who God intended you to be and the perfect parent for your kids. 

And the lasagna? 
It eventually cooked and it was great! 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Open Letter to Husbands and Fathers from a Widow on Valentine's Day

Well, it's my first Valentine's Day since Tom met the Lord this past summer. He was the great love of my life and I am incredibly grateful for the years that God granted us to love one another.

So here's the thing. I've never been a huge fan of this holiday. I am not a VDay basher, either, just never got all excited about obligatory gifts and junk food. Tom, on the other hand, was a pitiful romantic. He never missed an excuse to show his love for me, whether I expected it or not. He would not allow me to be a grinch about love. 

This holiday has always had mixed reviews, right? Some people look forward to it each year with the anticipation of a 16 year old in love for the first time, while others loathe the commercial aspect of this created holiday and grumble about the implied responsibility of this day.

After all, who wants to feel compelled by social pressure to say, "I love you" or to buy a card, roses and candy? And they jack up the prices so! Shouldn't those things come more than once a year? Shouldn't they be spontaneous? 

Of course, the answer is yes to both of those questions. The romantic gestures that express love and appreciation for your spouse and children should be a natural overflow of your acknowledgement that each is a unique and precious gift from God. 

And yes, they should come from your heart any time of year, but before you dismiss Valentine's Day altogether, indulge me a moment. 

As I sit here at my computer on our made up "romantic" holiday, missing my husband, watching all my precious friends loving one another today, I want you to think about this day as a memory rather than today. 

Think about what this day will mean 5, 10, 20 years from now to your spouse or your kids, or their kids... 

One day, you will leave this world. Aside from the Lord coming again, we will all die one day. Once that happens, all your good intentions die with you. Everything you wish you'd said or done are worthless. You have but one sacred life to live on this earth. Your legacy matters. 
And you WILL leave one. 

When you are gone, will your wife be able to feel your words surround her on Valentine's Day? Will she be able to recite your words of love and affirmation from memory? I can. I can hear my husband's words as if he were standing here right now because of all the countless times he spoke them. Will your sons and daughters know from your example what it means to selflessly love another? Will they know how to love their spouses well, after you are no longer here to show them? 

I am so proud of the man I married who not only loved me well, but who taught our 5 boys to love me well too! It is due to his incredible example that I received flowers for Christmas and my Anniversary in his absence. They knew that their Dad would want that. They knew that he would want them to show his love to me since he can no longer do it himself. 

I am confident that one day, when the Lord brings each of them a godly woman to love and serve as husband, that they will know how to love them well too.

I urge you, regardless of what your feelings about this holiday are, to consider embracing each and every excuse to love well. Yes, even if that means celebrating Valentine's Day! Serve one another. Hug your spouse now. Tell them that you are thankful to have them, even if you aren't feeling it at the moment. Life is so short and we are all so guilty of taking one another for granted. 

Men, you have incredible influence in your homes. Use that influence to leave a legacy of love. It can change generations.